Monthly Archives: March 2014

Roasted Chicken in “Lemon Gold”

Bear with me as I walk you through a hodgepodge of a recipe that will create – not kidding – the best chicken you’ve ever eaten. Don’t get nervous about roasting a chicken in milk. And lemon. And cinnamon. Still with me? Good. This totally bizarre-sounding recipe requires a little bit of faith but the end result….oh, man. The end result. This recipe makes your house smell completely unbelievable – sort of warm, and fragrant, and savory all at once – the chicken is the juiciest I’ve ever had, and the sauce – how in the world can little curdles of milk and lemon and cinnamon be so amazing?? Most of the dinner (with a guy who’s probably the best conversationalist I’ve ever dated) consisted 80% of talking about how incredibly great this was. Make sure you have some good bread on hand, too, otherwise you’ll basically be drinking the sauce out of the bowl. This is the bomb. 

CHICKEN IN “LEMON GOLD” (serves approx. 6) – adapted from Jamie Oliver’s “Chicken in Milk”
– 1 whole chicken (I used a 5 lb. one)
– 4 tbsp. butter 
– 2 tbsp. EVOO 
– 2 lemons, zested 
– Juice of 1.5 lemons (save the other half to put in the chicken cavity) 
– Pretty good-sized handful of fresh sage 
– 9 garlic cloves, peeled 
– 2 cinnamon sticks 
– 1.5 cups milk 
– Kosher salt & pepper 

1. Preheat oven to 375° 

2. Ugh, this is the worst part. Always. Rinse your chicken well, then dry it really well, too. I was a vegetarian for a while, and every time I have to clean a chicken it reminds me why. Just steel yourself and keep your eye on the prize! Stuff the cavity with the half of the lemon that you left unjuiced and some of the sage leaves. It helps if you have everything set out beforehand, so you don’t find yoruself needing some salt while you have all chicken-y hands.

 

3. In a french oven, melt the butter and the EVOO over medium heat. 


4. Season the chicken well with kosher salt & pepper. 

5. When the butter/EVOO mixture is frothy, carefully add the chicken and let it cook for approx. 4 minutes on each side. You can use tongs or two sturdy wooden spoons to turn it over. Let it get really golden and don’t skip this step, because this is where a lot of flavor and color develops. 

6. Remove chicken from the pot and put it on a clean plate. Pour the excess butter/oil from the pot into a heat-proof little dish and set aside – don’t throw this away. What’s left in the bottom of the pan is perfect for cooking the chicken. 

7. Put the chicken back in the pan (I roasted this breast-side up, but next time I’m definitely roasting it breast-side down so it absorbs the max amount of the sauce flavoring) and add the lemon juice, milk, sage leaves, garlic, and cinnamon sticks. Scatter the top of the chicken with the lemon zest. Cook for approx. 1 hour 45 minutes, or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees internally. The lid should be on for the first hour, then off for the last 45 minutes.

8. Baste this “when you remember” (I swear, that’s an actual cooking direction). The lemon juice will kind of curdle the milk, but oddly enough, not in a bad way?? It gets kind of rich and flavorful and…right. How great your house smells about halfway through this cooking is nothing compared to how great this is going to taste when it’s ready. 


9. When chicken is done, carefully remove it and set on a plate and let it sit for about ten minutes. 


10. Make the “lemon gold” sauce from what’s left in the french oven. I fished out most of the garlic cloves (some of these will full-blown melt into the sauce) and gave them to Brendan, but I’ve read about people spreading these cloves on good bread they use for sauce dipping, which sounds awesome. I also threw out the cinnamon sticks and most of the sage leaves from the sauce. Then, because the consistency looked a little too dodgy, I blended this really, really well with a hand blender. 

Lemon Gold sauce, pre-blended

— We had this alongside roasted baby potatoes and wilted arugula, put sauce all over everything, and I added a new dish to the rotation. Hope you like this as much as you weren’t expecting you would!

Sesame Edamame, Avocado and Mozzarella Salad with Cilantro and Scallions

When I took the first bite of this, I didn’t know if I was crazy about it, and then I kept taking bites as I was making other things, and all of a sudden it just got delicious. I think the flavors really need to meld together with the dressing, so dress it at least 30 minutes before serving. Look at how pretty all that green is!

SESAME EDAMAME, AVOCADO & MOZZARELLA SALAD W CILANTRO & SCALLIONS (serves 4)
– 1 bag frozen edamame, shelled
– 2 avocados, diced
– 1 cup mini mozzarella balls, if you can find them, otherwise you can just use pieces of a regular ball of mozz
– handful of cilantro
– 4 scallions, sliced
– 1 tbsp. sesame seeds

Dressing:
– 1.5 Tbsp sesame oil
– 1.5 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar
– 1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
– Kosher Salt & Pepper, to taste.

1. Cook the edamame according to package directions. Add to a medium-sized bowl and set aside to cool while you make the dressing.

2. Get a mason jar, and add the balsamic & rice vinegars.  Add the kosher salt & pepper so they react with the vinegars, and shake it up a little.

3. Add the sesame oil to the vinegars, shake well to combine.

4. Chop some cilantro and slice the scallions.

5. To the bowl with the edamame, add mozzarella, cilantro, scallions, and sesame seeds.

6. Cube avocados. The easiest way to do this is to cut an avocado in half, get rid of the pit, then cut a grid into the avocado. Run your knife around the perimeter of the gridded avocado, and you should be able to squeeze out the avocado cubes.

7. Gently fold the avocado into the bowl with the edamame mix.  Add the dressing and mix well to combine. 

Olive Oil-Poached Eggs with Thyme

I kind of couldn’t believe how awesome these turned out. Poaching these eggs in olive oil means an almost-fried egg with that great runny center of a poached egg, which was fantastic. You end up using a bunch of olive oil that you have to throw out afterwards, which is kind of a drawback, but the thyme infuses it with this really light, savory flavor that was perfect. We topped avocado-feta toasts with these and had them with some heart-shaped fruit salad for a full, healthy, protein-filled breakfast.

OLIVE OIL-POACHED EGGS WITH THYME
– Eggs (2 per person)
– EVOO approx. 1.5 cups
– Thyme sprigs
– Kosher salt & pepper

1. In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. You’ll know when it’s hot enough because you can dip a wooden spoon into the olive oil and the bubbles will kind of cling to it. Add the thyme bundle to let that flavor start infusing into the olive oil.

2. While EVOO is heating, get the eggs out, but only crack 1 at a time to add to the olive oil.

3. When EVOO is hot enough, add individually cracked eggs, 1 at a time, to the oil. Let it cook for approx 45 seconds on one side, then gently flip over and cook for approx. 1 minute on the other side while floating in the olive oil, or until the white is set.

4. With a slotted spoon, remove poached egg and set aside. When ready to serve, top with kosher salt and pepper.

Avocado Feta Toast

This has the double benefit of being really great for you and also totally delicious. I would eat avocados and feta at just about every meal and on just about everything, so anytime I can combine those two things, plus get a filling breakfast, I’m down.

AVOCADO FETA TOAST
– Good bread (this makes a difference, you want something a little hearty that will stand up against the avocado-feta mix). I used an organic rosemary-olive oil loaf this time.
– Approx. 1/4 avocado per toast slice
– Crumbled Feta, approx 1 tbsp. per toast slice
– Kosher salt

1. Mash the avocados, then add the feta. Blend well and add Kosher salt to taste.


2. Spread on good toasted bread. Top with olive-oil poached eggs for a full heart-healthy fats and protein kind of  breakfast.

Herbed Butter

Let’s say you started cooking a sauce, then realized you didn’t have any canned tomatoes in the house (ahem), but the butter you were using had basically already started to melt. Do you A. throw it out and keep craving pasta or B. take that melted butter, chop up some basil, and make basil butter C. Make basil butter, then go to the store to get pasta anyway?  I chose C. You can use whatever fresh herbs you like – honestly, if I’d had thyme in the house, I probably would have used that since it’s more versatile – but basil butter looked pretty, smelled awesome and tasted really good, too. This looks way more impressive than it actually is. 

HERBED BUTTER

– Softened Butter
– Whatever herbs you want, chopped (make sure these are fresh, not dried)

1. Soften the butter (or in this case, pull it out of a saute pan when it’s half melted) and add to a little bowl.

 2. Chop up whatever herbs you’re using, then add to the butter.
3. Blend well, then let sit for a little while to harden partially.


4. Wrap butter into whatever form you want in parchment paper. Seal the ends of the parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Lemon, Toasted Almonds, Basil and Shaved Parm

 

I honestly couldn’t believe how delicious this was. It’s so light and pretty, the toasted almonds give it that added little crunch and substance, the julienned basil is lovely, and a simple lemon and EVOO dressing brings the whole thing together. Brendan took one bite and said, “I don’t even like raw zucchini, but this is amazing”. Ummm…agreed. I have a feeling I’m going to be making this a lot this summer. 

 ZUCCHINI RIBBON SALAD WITH LEMON, TOASTED ALMONDS, BASIL AND SHAVED PARM (SERVES 3-4) 
– 4 medium-large zucchini, shaved into ribbons with a peeler (approx. 1 zucchini per person) 
– 5-6 large leaves basil, julienned 
– ¼ C. toasted almond slices (I like slices instead of slivers, I think the crunch is just enough) 
– Shaved curls of fresh parmesan cheese 
– Juice of ¾ a lemon 
– 1.5 Tbsp. EVOO 
– Kosher Salt & Pepper 

1. Wash the zucchini, then peel into ribbons with a vegetable peeler. I tossed the very first peels that were all green, but kept the rest of them with some green on the sides for a little color. I also stopped when I got down to the seeded middle part, so that the ribbons looked nicer. Add zucchini ribbons to a large bowl. 


2. Squeeze a lemon over the zucchini so that it really soaks in. Add the kosher salt and pepper, then use tongs to gently mix it all together. Let it sit and absorb while you make the rest of the salad. 

3. Bring a small sauté pan to medium heat, then add almond slices. Shake the pan a couple of times and keep a close eye on these so they don’t burn. They should be toasted in 2-3 minutes, tops. Add almonds to the bowl with the zucchini. 

4. Julienne some basil. You can chop it, but the ribbons of basil look so pretty with the ribbons of zucchini. All ribbons, all the time! To julienne, stack the leaves on top of each other, roll them into a little cigar-like shape, then slice from the top down. Throw the basil in with the zucchini and almonds. 


5. Drizzle EVOO over everything, use the tongs to mix together. 

6. Top with some curls of parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Earl Grey Whipped Cream

 
This ended up being the second batch I made, because I forgot that the key to whipped cream is to make sure everything is as cold as possible. So basically, don’t infuse the tea with the heavy cream, let it cool a little bit while you wait impatiently, then try to whip it into cream before it’s super cold. You’ll get a separated mix of water and little chunks of butter, and who wants to use that for a fruit topper?  Not me! The second batch was much better. I actually used “Lady Grey’s Garden” tea from my favorite teahouse in America, Boulder’s Dushanbe Teahouse, but any kind of black tea you want to use will work here.

EARL GREY WHIPPED CREAM
– Earl grey tea
– 1 C. heavy cream
– 1/3 C. confectioner’s sugar

1. In a small sauce pan, add the cream and warm it up over medium heat. Add the earl grey tea bag and infuse it for approx. 5 minutes. Remove the tea bag and set aside.

2. Add confectioner’s sugar to the earl grey heavy cream. Taste and adjust – what it tastes like now is what the end whipped cream result will be.

3. Let it not just cool, but get cold, as cold as possible.
4. Using an immersion blender or a blender with a balloon whisk attachment, beat the cold heavy cream until it starts to turn light and fluffy. Once it starts changing form, it moves pretty fast, so keep an eye on it and don’t over-beat it. 

5. Top fruit or desserts with this – it’ll keep about a day. 

Quinoa with Black Beans, Avocado, Tomatoes, Scallions & Mini Mozzarella with a Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

What do you make for a cardiothoracic surgeon and a journalist after watching open heart surgery on Valentine’s Day? This is what I came up with, and for someone who’s big on eating healthy (the surgeon) and someone who’d never tried quinoa before (the journalist), I think it was a pretty good pick. Quinoa is definitely my favorite grain – it’s an ancient source of protein and also high in iron, fiber & magnesium – and also, with its little pop of texture, it’s fun to eat. It goes well with just about everything, and has completely replaced rice in cooking for me at this point. Plus, heart-healthy avocados, tomatoes and scallions, fiber-rich organic black beans and a little mozz…yummo. This dish has a southwestern vibe but in a really clean, bright way. I love this.

QUINOA WITH BLACK BEANS, AVOCADO, TOMATOES, SCALLIONS & MINI MOZZARELLA WITH A CILANTRO-LIME VINAIGRETTE (serves 5-6)
 – 1 C. dry quinoa
– 2 C. chicken broth or water
– 1 can organic black beans, rinsed and drained
– ½ C. mini mozzarella balls (these just look cuter in the salad, otherwise dice up a larger mozzarella ball)
– 1 avocado, diced
– 1 C. cherry tomatoes, halved
– 3 scallions, sliced
– 2 limes, juiced
– Zest of 1 lime
– 4 tbsp. EVOO
– ½ tsp. cumin
– Handful of cilantro, chopped
– Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
1.       Cook quinoa. You have to really rinse it well, otherwise the “dust” that’s on it makes it bitter. I have a really fine mesh strainer that I just dump the uncooked quinoa in, then run water over it, swishing it around in the strainer, until the water runs clear.

2.       Once the quinoa is rinsed and the chicken broth (or water) is boiling, add quinoa to the water, then turn heat down to low. Cover the pot and let the water incorporate into the quinoa, approx. 15 mins. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, still covered. Fluff with a fork.


3.       Meanwhile, dice the avocados and scallions, cut the tomatoes, and dry the mozzarella a little bit.


4.       Drain and rinse the black beans well.
5.       Make the dressing – in a mason jar, combine the lime juice, lime zest, cumin, salt & pepper. Mix to blend everything together in the acid of the lime juice before adding the EVOO. Add the EVOO and shake it all up.


6.       In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, black beans, tomatoes, mozz, scallions and avocado. Mix gently to blend.
7.       Add the dressing, and the cilantro, mix gently again. Serve, or cover and refrigerate to let flavors absorb into the quinoa.

8.       Make a mental note to take better care of your heart after watching someone have seven blockages cleared that morning (okay, that was just what I did).  For more information on heart health, visit www.heart.org

Birthday

I’m officially at the point where I’m no longer talking about my age, which makes the fact that my boyfriend is in his early 20s even better. :] This was a great birthday in so many ways – if you had told me a year ago that this is what my life would look like, I never would have believed it, which makes being here better than I ever could have imagined. Over the last year I’ve really tried to put into practice 3 things: patience, presence and gratitude. This week was a celebration of all of that with some of the people I love the most.

Me and my Dad as babies…same little rosebud lips!

AC at dawn

Guess where this is?  Lucy the Elephant  <3

Ebbit Room dinner

Mad Batter, which I’ve been going to since I was a little girl and has the BEST BLUEBERRY PANCAKES IN AMERICA.

winter beach days…lovely.

Some of the prettiest flowers I’ve ever seen from my family. Love you guys and thanks for another wonderful birthday!